cover image Baboon


Kate Banks. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-374-30474-4

A naive young baboon, just discovering his world, extrapolates from every encounter in this quasi-metaphysical tale first published in France. When Baboon comes upon a tortoise, he remarks to his mother, ""The world is slow."" Later, a fleet-footed gazelle changes his mind. When a fire convinces Baboon that ""the world is hot,"" his mother philosophically answers, ""Not always."" In spite of seemingly volatile elements--fire crackles, predators lurk and an elephant stampede seems imminent--the tale is devoid of tension. Hallensleben's expansive, meltingly blended paintings create a magnificent setting; they adopt a range of unusual perspectives, often from over the baboons' shoulders, and the creamy colors, from chartreuse greens to cobalt night skies to deep teal waters, are truly luscious. He also portrays the observant, quizzical postures of the wide-eyed baby baboon with great tenderness. The artwork's hazy softness reflects the story's pensive mood. Banks and Hallensleben, previously paired for Spider Spider, present a lovely but listless land, where Baboon tests many notions and concludes simply, ""The world is big."" Ages 3-6. (Apr.)